Google Fiber returns to expansion mode through city pact

After a four-year pause on market expansion, Google Fiber is gearing up to start network deployments in West Des Moines, Iowa, via a new public/private partnership with the city.

Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor

July 7, 2020

3 Min Read
Google Fiber returns to expansion mode through city pact

Following a lengthy hiatus on market expansion, Google Fiber is nearing new-build mode again after striking a private/public partnership to deliver fiber-based broadband services to homes and businesses in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Google Fiber is poised to be the first tenant on what is being billed as an open access network that will allow other parties to sell and distribute broadband service.

"Google Fiber will be the initial tenant, but other communication companies – both large and small, existing or new – will also have opportunities to lease space from the city for their conduit in the city's network," West Des Moines Mayor Steven Gaer explained in a press event held online.

Gaer said the city's conduit licensing agreement with Google Fiber stems from a strategic plan West Des Moines undertook in 2016 that included objectives to more easily allow the deployment of broadband infrastructure and more broadband service competition. Mediacom Communications, an incumbent cable operator in the market, has been asked for comment on the Google Fiber/city pact and if it intends to take advantage of the opportunity to participate in the open access network.

Gaer said the plan is for Google Fiber to start construction this fall. He estimates that it will take about 2.5 years to complete the buildout across the city, which is home to almost 68,000 people and is Iowa's eighth-largest city.

Every home and business in the city will be eligible for a free installation of a "connection point" from their property to the municipal conduit, he added. Google Fiber will cover part of the construction cost through monthly lease payments to the city, and the city won't increase property taxes to help pay for the project. Instead, West Des Moines will generate funding for the project by using taxable general obligation bonds, Gaer said.

While West Des Moines marks Google Fiber's first new market in more than four years, the agreement shares similarities to a partnership that Google Fiber forged with Huntsville, Alabama, where it leases fiber from Huntsville Utilities to provide high-speed Internet service across that city, David Finn, director of corporate development at Google Fiber, explained in this blog post.

Prior to a pause on market expansions as well as a pullback in Louisville after a plan to use shallow trenching systems did not pan out, Google Fiber has been extending the reach of its wired and fixed wireless platform in several of its existing markets, including Kansas City; Chicago; Miami; Provo and Salt Lake City, Utah; Atlanta; Denver; Nashville, Tennessee; San Antonio and Austin, Texas; Huntsville; Seattle; Oakland, San Francisco and San Diego, California; and Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina, among others.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Jeff Baumgartner

Senior Editor, Light Reading

Jeff Baumgartner is a Senior Editor for Light Reading and is responsible for the day-to-day news coverage and analysis of the cable and video sectors. Follow him on X and LinkedIn.

Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.

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